Charged with the task of helping a newspaper organization reinvent itself, our group has been given some tremendous tools to work with. Already in possession of a newspaper that reaches more than 40% of the metro-Cedar Rapids area, Gazette Communications also owns KCRG-TV, the local ABC affiliate.
Combined with gazetteonline.com and some of its other online and print properties, Gazette Communications has already laid the groundwork for a multimedia powerhouse, and is ready to make the “epic surge” into creating an equally strong online community. The inherent challenge however is creating synergy between the Gazette and KCRG-TV, while still having each organization keep its brand identity.
I just finished reading the book Linked by Albert-László Barabási this past weekend. With his Ph. D. in theoretical physics, Barabasi delves deep into network theory, and offers a major piece of advice that completely applies to the Gazette:
“As research, innovation, product development, and marketing become more and more specialized and divorced from each other, we are converging to a network economy in which strategic alliances and partnerships are the means for survival in all industries.”
Indeed, with the properties it has, the Gazette is more than capable of putting together a product that can engage its readers beyond article comments. But how can we make them work together to create a “successful” online community?
According to Robin Miller of the Knight Digital Media Center, there are five rules for building a successful online community. Check out the link for explanations, but here they are:
- Your discussions must be threaded or nested, not just “flat.”
- You have readers who know more than you do about any given topic — and plenty of readers who don’t know nearly as much as they think they do.
- Let your readers judge each other so you don’t have to judge them yourself.
- All good things must come to an end.
- Why buy a cow when the software is free?
Taking these things into account, what are some of the things online that interest and engage you?